Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria, the 56th country I have backpacked. Woohoo.

Spent the morning trying to get my Iranian visa. This is the most difficult visa I have ever applied for. Apart from wanting a letter from my non-existent employer the biggest hurdle was that the duplicate forms had to be typed. Like typed on a manual typewriter like they did back in the dark ages before personal computers. My skin crawls at the very thought. Where on Earth do you find a manual typewriter these days apart from a museum? Well it turns out that they have the last six manual typewriters on the side of the road here and you can pay an old woman a few dingbats to type anything. There is only one catch. The keyboards are all written in the Cyrillic alphabet with all the unusual suspects like backwards N, E that has fallen over on it’s back, two K’s humping, grand piano shaped key, b with extra bit and the ubiquitous letter 3. Thankfully the women with the enigma coding typewriters knew of another woman who had the only normal typewriter in Sofia. An hour later we were back at the Iranian Embassy getting more suspicious stares and pointed questions about why I want to go to Iran and why I don’t have an organised tour to keep an eye on me. Eh? The embassy people don’t realise it (or maybe they do) but they come across as ultra paranoid. Why? What does Iran have to hide? Oh apart from their secret nuclear weapons program. I give myself a fifty fifty chance of getting the visa. The worst thing is that I’ll waste ten days I don’t have finding out.

Since I have some time I am thinking of taking in Albania and Macedonia. I Hear there are dodgy cops and good scammers down there. Fingers crossed because the scammers up here are mere beginners who wouldn’t last a day in Cairo.

Today a Bulgarian mob boss with 10 bodyguards was shot through the heart by a sniper as part of an year long mob war. This was the fourth attempt on his life. Best of all it was right near our hostel.

Ran into the Ritalin sniffing investment banker at our hostel. He says he has shagged ten girls since we left him three weeks ago. When asked how many he paid for he said ‘nine’. There is some speculation that he got a buy nine get one free special. We have also run into Gayle and Noel an older Kiwi couple that we met in Sarajevo. They are from Matamata and are on an eighteen month backpacking tour of the world. They are very interesting, experienced backpackers and it’s a bit like having your Kiwi parents on tour. Choice bro.

Went bowling and to a big student club which was quite full for a Monday. Greg asked me to be his wingman and chat to the second girl of two who he was talking to. I politely refused because being Greg’s wingman often thankless and I was far to smashed. Fortunately there were plenty of other guys in the group who were keen. I had to laugh when the volunteer wingman returned saying that the second girl didn’t speak English. Greg sometimes doesn’t bother to talk to the girl he isn’t interested in shagging so he fails to notice the simple things like if they speak English or whether the have a boyfriend or if they used to be called Bruce.

Was badly bent out of shape by the time we got home and fell asleep on the hotel computer.

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